Trump, the Alt-Right and White Racialism: A Mainstream Media Myth
There’s a national hissy fit at the moment about the threat of white racialism. D.C.-based reporters who somehow miss the 200,000-plus citizens each year that make the March for Life right past their offices have discovered … a room full of marginal losers in second-hand blazers who rented a room at a bistro and made Hitler salutes, claiming to “honor” Donald Trump. And these journos know a story when they see one!
No, none of the moral midgets in that room had anything to do with the Trump campaign. None of them wrote for Breitbart. None of them, in fact, had any national platform until these reporters gave them one, and catapulted the small-souled Richard Spencer into the highlight. (Like the producers of Springtime for Hitler, something tells me they’ll regret it.)
So what’s the proper journalistic response? For the leftwing media, it’s obvious. You need to cover this obscure gathering as if you’d infiltrated the Wannsee Conference, then demand that Donald Trump denounce these cranks (as he rightly did), and that he fire his strategist Steven Bannon (which he didn’t, shouldn’t, and won’t).
How many mainstream reporters demanded that Clinton renounce the racist legacy of that group which she openly, proudly supported? Not one. But let’s make Donald Trump answer for total strangers whom he has never heard of. That’s journalism, folks.
Imagine if a White Racist Organization Captured a Presidential Candidate
Like Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, Spencer runs a national organization founded to advance white racial dominance. Unlike Richards’ group, Spencer’s has never succeeded in killing anyone, much less 300,000 a year, focused in poor and non-white neighborhoods. Spencer has not helped to pass mandatory sterilization laws of the genetically “unfit.” He has not helped a totalitarian government (China’s) enforce a brutal policy of forced abortions. No, compared with Planned Parenthood, Spencer and all his crew are about as important as the Bronies.
Hillary Clinton campaigned with Cecile Richards on behalf of her eugenics organization. Clinton accepted the Margaret Sanger Award, named for its Nazi-linked founder. How many mainstream reporters demanded that Clinton renounce the racist legacy of that group which she openly, proudly supported? Not one. But let’s make Donald Trump answer for total strangers whom he has never heard of. That’s journalism, folks.
There are deeper issues here than brain-bleedingly obvious bias. While Spencer represents almost no one, there has been a shift inside the Republican party and the American electorate, and it is in fact important.
Jacksonian Nationalism Comes in from the Cold
There are many intellectual movements represented within the big tent that is the Republican party. Libertarians, religious conservatives, Jacksonian nationalists, and pro-business incrementalists all co-existed for decades. Back when the fear of Communism united them, these movements largely cooperated, making trade-offs where appropriate that compromised their ideological “purity.” The collapse of Communism provoked a widely noted “crack-up” within the broad conservative movement. The balance among these competing forces shifted, and major elements within this coalition began to feel less and less represented.
Jacksonians hold citizenship precious, akin to membership in a family. They view with suspicion international agreements, mass immigration from starkly different cultures, multinational coalitions, and promises that cooperation with other nations will prove as “win/win” as internationalists and libertarians insist.
One of the most important “outsider” factions — and the one that Trump and Bannon speak for — is Jacksonian nationalism. This brand of politics values the interests of the nation viewed as one vast community over the promotion of abstract, intellectual projects, however appealing, such as promoting social justice, shrinking government, or spreading democracy abroad.
Jacksonians hold citizenship precious, akin to membership in a family. They view with suspicion international agreements, mass immigration from starkly different cultures, multinational coalitions, and promises that cooperation with other nations will prove as “win/win” as internationalists and libertarians insist. In fact, Jacksonians suspect that such promises are political cover for policies that benefit elites at the expense of the common man and the common good. There is nothing essentially racial about the Jacksonian worldview, so long as membership in the nation is open to all who are willing to assimilate to its culture and play by its rules.
For a fascinating (if lengthy) account of the conflict between Jacksonian nationalism and various forms of globalism, see Steve Bannon’s own essay contrasting Ted Cruz’s foreign policy with Marco Rubio’s, published at Breitbart during primary season.
We’ve Got Spam, Eggs, Sausage and Spam …
On the Jacksonian view, starting around 1992, the Republican party began to freeze out its concerns, in favor of a more ideologically coherent program that was dubbed neoconservatism. Jacksonians such as Patrick Buchanan described this newly dominant worldview concisely as “Invade the world, invite the world.” I noted in 2003 that for leading neocons, it seems that America is not actually an historic country in a fallen world, with both gifts and limits. Instead, it is a kind of ideological virus, which our military can spread around the world, and which every immigrant catches upon arrival. Jacksonians see our culture of freedom, hard work, ordered liberty and religious tolerance as the precious and fragile fruit of centuries’ struggle in England and America. For neoconservatives, that culture is the inevitable outcome of our creed, which could flourish equally among 319 million people from any other heritage. America is an abstraction.
For Jacksonians, from 1992 until the rise of Donald Trump, the GOP was like that Monty Python restaurant where, whatever you ordered, what you were actually getting was Spam. Supposedly “hardline” conservative leader Paul Ryan was working with radical left-wing Democrats to pass immigration amnesty. Republican president George W. Bush was inviting thousands of “refugees” from Central America, to compete for jobs that Bush’s big business allies were outsourcing to foreign countries, or else to subsist on American welfare. Bush also pretended that the intolerant dictates of the Quran itself were “perversions” of Islam, which in his mind was apparently Unitarianism, plus hummus. None of these policies were acceptable to Jacksonians. But none of their objections had anything to do with crank theories of race.
Are Human Beings Interchangeable Parts?
Racialism is evil, and if actually put into practice would devastate America, as tribalism shattered Yugoslavia. But globalism as practiced by leftist internationalists and blithe neoconservatives is equally destructive. It pretends that human beings are interchangeable, or instantly malleable to economic or government incentives — that they can be controlled by the kinds of levers that smart, prosperous people with prestigious college degrees learn to manipulate. The geniuses who ran the European Union decided that a million Muslim colonists would fit right in to Germany, Sweden and Denmark — and accused the terrified citizens who objected of being — you guessed it — racists!
Of course, you should be against racism, along with dog-fighting and kiddie porn. But you don’t deserve any laurels for “taking a stand” on such issues. Sorry, snowflakes.
Both racialism and globalism are toxic and destructive. Which one is more powerful in America? Which one is respectable, from the U.N., the EU, and the Vatican to every major university? Which one gets people attaboys and cushy jobs? Answer those questions, and you know which heresy is more dangerous right now.
Cheap Grace Isn’t Worth its Price
It doesn’t take much courage to read the transcripts of the Nuremburg Trials and tell the world, “I am against this!” Of course, you should be against it, along with dog-fighting and kiddie porn. But you don’t deserve any laurels for “taking a stand” on such issues. Sorry, snowflakes. You’ll have to find another way to win those merit badges.
C.S. Lewis wrote (in the voice of Screwtape) about the danger of picking up “cheap grace” by following moral fashions, instead of seeking and serving the truth:
The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there’s a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.
It’s much tougher, and therefore more important, to ignore fashion and instead question the ideologues who are currently in power, from worldwide bureaucracies and federal agencies to posh colleges and self-serving church hierarchies. Jacksonians are right to fear the globalism which these elites are promoting, especially in the form of mass colonization of Western countries by newcomers with alien values. But to fight this globalism, you’ll pay a price. Part of that might be that you’re slandered as a racist, as Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have been. If you care for the common good, you will just have to soldier on.